On March 13, six teams of Tech students and recent graduates took the Ferst Center stage at the fourth annual InVenture Prize finals to show off their extracurricular innovations. The event was broadcast live by Georgia Public Broadcasting, emceed by David Pogue of The New York Times and featured a panel of celebrity entrepreneurs who selected the night’s winner. Meet this year’s six finalists.
What is it? A software-assisted hand rehabilitation device. Who made it? Alkindi Kibria, Elizabeth LeMar, Kunal Dean MacDonald and Daphne Vincent, all 2011 biomedical engineering graduates. What inspired it? LeMar’s mother had two surgeries on her hands for carpal tunnel and struggled through painful recoveries. LeMar and her teammates aim to improve hand rehabilitation for those recovering from carpal tunnel, strokes, arthritis or injuries. Why is it game changing? The 30 million Americans with hand weakness previously only had a squeeze ball for physical therapy. Re-Hand, which can be used at home, offers more engaging exercises and tracks patient progress. “The idea is to use technology to take rehabilitation into the home setting,” Vincent says. As the 1st place winner the team receives $15,000, a free U.S. Patent filing and acceptance into the 2012 class of Flashpoint, a Tech startup accelerator.
What is it? An extraordinarily precise and pressure-sensitive digital stylus. Who made it? Industrial design major Matthew Stoddard and electrical engineering major Christopher Vollo. What inspired it? Stoddard was using an iPad for a class project and grew frustrated trying to take notes with a standard stylus. Why is it game changing? Through its hardware and software, the Stylii incorporates the “pinch and zoom” function and unlocks other capabilities of tablet computers. “This is something that is immediately useful for nearly all touchscreens,” Stoddard says. As the 2nd place winner, the team receives $10,000, a free U.S. patent filing and acceptance into the 2012 class of Flashpoint.
What is it? A chest retractor for open-heart surgery. Who made it? Mechanical engineering majors Josh DeVane and Kevin Parsons, and alumni Benji Hoover, ME 11; Matthew Lee, BME 11; and Priya Patil, BME 11. What inspired it? Retractors currently used can cause significant blood loss during surgery, and the team sought a way to improve on that design. Why is it game changing? The retractors in use today are based on a 50-year-old design. CardiacTech improved on the size and positioning of the blades on the device to minimize damage and blood loss. “I wanted to work on a project that had a real-world clinical application,” Parsons says. As the people’s choice award winner the team receives $5,000.
What is it? An online system to create and share college class schedules. Who made it? Computer science majors Gregg Cobb and James Rundquist. What inspired it? His freshman year, Rundquist and his friends struggled to plan out their full course schedules, some of them resorting to sticking Post-it notes on the wall. Why is it game changing? CourseShark offers new tools that allow students to map out their entire class schedule with ease. “The registration tools used by schools around the country are stuck in the dark ages,” Rundquist says.
What is it? A touchscreen device that gives guitarists the functionality of a distortion pedal. Who made it? Computer engineering major David Burke and Bradley Keller, Sarosh Ali Shahbuddin, Michael Barrington Stone and Jarred Vallbracht, all 2011 electrical engineering graduates. What inspired it? Burke saw the band Muse in concert and was intrigued by the way Matt Bellamy used a Kaoss Pad to distort the sound of his guitar. Why is it game changing? The DEfT Pad takes all of the distortion capabilities of a pedal and puts it on the guitar, within easy reach. “It uses a touch screen, so you have a lot more control. There’s no limit to what you can do,” Burke says.
What is it? An inflatable obstacle and rail system for extreme water sports. Who made it? Spencer Price, an industrial design major, and Graeme Wicks, PFE 10. What inspired it? Wicks and Graeme saw that other water sports rail systems were bulky and difficult to move and store. Why is it game changing? Entripic Wake requires only an air pump to set up, and it’s easy for wake boarders to customize, move and store. “We’re trying to let them push their skill level and their sport to the next level,” Price says.